Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ben and Mike Sharpe- The First Gaijin Superstars in Japan

Note on sources: I used information from a number of websites as well as great books by Greg Oliver and John Molinaro in writing this bio. I especially encourage people to check out the books and the reference information is at the end. Mike and Ben Sharpe are known as being from Hamilton, Ontario although Ben is listed as having been born in Guelph, Ontario. Ben was born on March 18, 1916 while Mike (father of Iron Mike Sharpe) was born on July 11, 1922. Ben travelled to the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin as part of Canada’s rowing team which was eliminated in the semi-finals despite having the second-best time over all in that round. Greg Oliver wrote that Ben carried the Canadian flag in the parade of athletes and shook hands with Adolf Hitler. Ben enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was utilized as a fitness instructor as his 6’5 frame made him too big to be a pilot. Ben was posted in England and would go to watch wrestling on weekends. When his brother Mike, six years Ben’s junior, enlisted and arrived in England he was apparently bigger than Ben who reportedly talked Mike into wrestling with Ben as his manager. Mike wrestled opponents such as Lord James Blears before the war ended and the Sharpes returned to Hamilton rather than accept offers to stay wrestling in England. Their return to wrestling occurred in Ontario starting in 1946. Mike and Ben are listed as wrestling in singles matches in Windsor, Ontario in 1947. Results from Hamilton in 1948 show Mike “The Body” Sharpe defending the British Empire title against Nanjo Singh and Wladislaw Talun while Ben was wrestling the Masked Marvel (who may be Cowboy Len Hughes, a pioneering wrestling promoter of the Maritimes territory). The brothers are also seen to be teaming against Lee Henning and Dan O’Connor. Mike may have wrestled Whipper Billy Watson in Hamilton that summer and did face him at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1949. Mike and Ben were teaming at MLG by 1949 as well on shows headlined by pre-killer Wladek Kowalski and Earl McCready. They travelled to St. Louis in 1949 wrestling separately in undercard matches against opponents such as Bill Longson, Warren Bockwinkel and Mike teaming with Enrique Torres. They travelled to Memphis in 1950 and wrestled Killer Kowalski. Ben travelled to St. Louis that year as well and did team with Fred Blassie in at least one match. It was in 1950 that they travelled to San Francisco and started their run as a main event tag team. They first won the NWA Tag Team Titles on May 9, 1950 from Hard Boiled Haggerty and Ray Eckert. They held the titles until May 29 and then again from June 13 until July 7. They were perennial tag team champions in the territory, holding them ten times before they took the titles to Japan for the first time and the seeds of that eventual move were sowed when they wrestled Rikidozan in America. They teamed up against Rikidozan and a number of partners between1952 and 1953 including Mario Desouza, El Hombre Montana, Primo Carnera and Lord Athol Layton. They also main evented in Los Angeles and Hawaii between 1952 and 1953 and had matches with Bobby Bruns, the man who trained Rikidozan after running a pro wrestling tour in Japan. The Sharpes continued to main event in San Francisco into early 1954 and spent the very early part of the year facing opponents such as Enrique Torres, Bobo Brazil, Ronnie Etchison and Leo Nomellnni. In July 1953 Rikidozan announced the formation of the Japan Pro Wrestling Association and had the debut card that month before returning to the U.S. Rikidozan returned to Japan for February 1954 and ran a tag team tournament from February 19 to February 21. It was for this series that Mike and Ben first came to Japan. On the first night they wrestled to a 61-minute draw against Rikidozan and Masahiko Kimura. On the second day Mike defeated Toshio Yamaguchi and Rikidozan defeated Ben in a 2/3 falls match. The three-day tournament climaxed with Rikidozan and Kimura facing the Sharpes in a 2/3 falls match at Sumo Hall in Tokyo. The teams traded the first two falls and the third fall ended a in a double countout allowing the Sharpes to keep the NWA World tag team titles that they had transported to Japan. The first day of the tournament was shown on NHK while the second and third days were shown on NTV (Nippon TV). John Molinaro noted that television was still new to Japan but it was the images of these matches that had Japanese citizens watching at home and on “street televisions “ that had been set up in public for people who could not afford a television. Similar to the legends of Gorgeous George in America, it was this post-war catharsis of the Japanese (actually Korean) hero battling valiantly against the monster Americans (actually Canadian) that helped establish television in the country. 1954 was the groundbreaking year of the Japanese pro wrestling business that was largely built on the concept of national heroes facing gaijin foreigners. And it was Mike and Ben Sharpe who provided the gaijin foundation for that formula. The Japanese life appeared to have impacted them as well since Ben named a son Riki after Rikidozan. The two teams had rematches at Sumo Hall on February 27 and March 6. Both matches were 2/3 falls, with the Sharpes winning in the first fall and the match then going to a 61-minute draw with the Sharpes still keeping the tag titles and returning to the U.S. without the Japanese heroes having taken gold. The Sharpes teamed with Bobby Bruns against Rikidozan, Kimura and Yamaguchi on February 28 and went to draws against Rikidozan and Bruns on March 2, March 3 and March 9. They lost to Rikidozan and Yamaguchi on February 26 and defeated Rikidozan and Kokichi Endo on March 7. In July of 1954 they wrestled in All-Star Wrestling in Vancouver where they held the tag team titles. Ben also lost to NWA World Champion Lou Thesz on July 28 in a match for the title in Vancouver. In 1955 they continued their main event run in San Francisco and also spent significant time facing opponents such as Lou Thesz, Sandor Kovacs and Johnny Barend in Hawaii and also wrestled in Los Angeles. They continued to face Nomellinni, Torres and Brazil as well as new opponents such as another pair of Canadian brothers in George and Sandy Scott. In early 1956 they continued this run and Ray Stern and Yukon Eric were included as a frequent opponent in San Francisco as were the Great Togo and Tosh Togo in both San Francisco and Hawaii. Ben also won the Pacific Coast Heavyweight Title from Enrique Torres on January 28 before dropping it back to Torres on February 18. Other notable opponents included a match against Gene Kiniski and Lord Blears. The Sharpes returned to Japan in April 1956, On April 26 they defended the NWA Tag Team Titles against Rikidozan and Kokichi Endo at Sumo Hall in Tokyo. The teams traded the first two falls and the third fall ended with a referee stoppage with the Sharpes keeping the tag titles. The teams had a rematch on May 2 at Osaka Prefectural Gym. Much like in 1954, the match went to a 61-minute draw after the teams traded the first two falls. Rikidozan and Endo finally won the titles in a rematch on May 3 that also took place in Osaka. Ben and Mike regained the titles on May 10 in Sapporo. They continued to keep the titles in 61-minute draws against Rikidozan and Endo on May 19 and June 7. This series would seem to be a precursor to later patterns of Jack Brisco, Harley Race and Bob Backlund agreeing to trade their titles back and forth during Japanese tours in order to create interest and to lend legitimacy to Japanese wrestlers. It was not until 1957 that Lou Thesz would come to Japan as the travelling World Champion and it would appear that the Sharpes were the first gaijin to import championships to Japan. During this tour they also faced Rikidozan and Azumufuji on April 28, May 5, May 9, May 13, May 16, May 20, May 23, May 25, May 29, May 31 and June 3 in what would appear to be one-fall matches. Mike and Ben won six of these matches and lost five of them. The Sharpes returned to San Francisco and continued to defend the titles throughout 1956 and 1957 including against the team of Bill Miller and Ed Miller. Pat O’Connor also became a common opponent during this time and Rikidozan again faced off against the Sharpes during a 1957 U.S. tour. They worked against Enrique Torres and his brother Ramon Torres as well as Ramon and Alberto Torres. They also spent time teaming with other partners such as Lord Blears. They continued in San Francisco into early 1958 when they started working in Montreal for the rest of the year. Their opponents during this run included Pat O’Connor, Edouard Carpentier, Johnny Rougeau, Wladek Kowalski, Gene Kiniski, Enrique Torres, Paul Ballairgeon, Mr. Hito and Mr. Moto. They travelled to Memphis in early 1959 and wrestled Billy Wicks and Leo Field on February 23. Mike wrestled in Dallas through March and April and held the Texas Tag Team Titles with Ed Sharpe. Ben returned to San Francisco teaming with Billy Red Lyons among others and winning the Pacific Coast Heavyweight title from Ramon Torres on March 20. Mike returned to San Francisco in May and the brothers were teaming again, winning the tag titles from Ramon Torres and Jose Lothario and again from Enrique Torres and Rip Miller. They lost the titles in December to Alberto Torres and Ron Etchison. They also faced Al Costello and Roy Heffernan during this time. In 1960 they were based out of both San Francisco and Los Angeles and faced Joe Scarpa (Chief Jay Strongbow), Jose Lothario, Gene Lebell, Sandor Szabo, Edouard Carpentier, Dick Hutton, Lou Thesz, Steve Stanlee, The Alaskan, Sam Steamboat and Costello and Heffernan. They wrestled separately more in 1961 in L.A. and San Francisco. They both faced King Curtis Iaukea in Hawaii. Mike started wrestling primarily in Calgary, Alberta facing Domenic Denucci, Bearcat Wright, Billy Watson, Jerry Graham, Don McClarty, Ronnie Etchison and Mark Lewin. Ben Sharpe still wrestled sporadically for the next couple years including against Don Leo Jonathan in Vancouver but he did retire to run a bar and restaurant in California known as Copperwood Lodge. Mike retired in 1964 and worked in California for Anheuser-Busch. Mike was the first to pass away in 1988 when he died of a heart attack. Ben was alive until 2000 but had been in a wheelchair for fourteen years which was partially attributed to his wrestling career. He died when he developed an infection in his leg. The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams by Greg Oliver The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Canadians by Greg Oliver The Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time by John Molinoro

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame

On Sunday, July 10, 2011 my wife and I were travelling back to Ontario after vacationing in Nova Scotia. On our return trip we travelled through the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. There were three reasons for this: 1) It is less total distance than actually just staying in Canada; my wife wanted to shop at Target and some craft stores; and I wanted to go to the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in Amsterdam, New York.

I am not quite sure in hindsight what my expectations were in attending. I pictured some kind of distinct building in an industrial area I guess. I expected there to be some exhibits that might be interesting, particularly in reference to someone like Whipper Billy Watson who always holds a special place for me as my Dad's favorite childhood wrestler that he always talked about. All in all, I figured that it should be o.k. but could be disappointing.

Being able to visit the PWHF blew away my expectations. My GPS machine took us right into the middle of downtown Amsterdam which is essentially part of the larger Schenectady, New York area. I saw a store-front and was expecting something small as a result. We walked in and I spoke to Tony who was volunteering there for the day and was a complete gentleman and unbelievably friendly. He is the deputy commissioner for the New York State Athletic Commission and one of the most devout wrestling fans I have ever met. And to my surprise there was absolutely no charge for admission, just the request that you sign in and accept mailings and updates from them which I would have wanted regardless.

We were there for an hour-and-a-half in which time I could not even come close to examining all of the memorabilia that was in the facility. The main floor had several outfits from wrestlers such as Bam Bam Bigelow and Mick Foley. One very surprising addition was Foley's original hand-written notes for his famous books. there were press photos all over the place including a section for female wrestlers from the days of Mildred Burke, June Byers and Nell Stewart. This was of particular interest to me as I had recently read the Mildred Burke biography.

We went upstairs and encountered multiple rooms with more show posters, press photos and obscure memorabilia than I could process, much less list here. There were numerous items regarding Don Leo Jonathan and I learned that he worked as an oceanographer and deep-sea diver after his wrestling career and was also a quick draw champion with a time of 4/100ths of a second.

There are a number of pieces in the museum from the 19th century. There are a number of old title belts including the Vermont Heavyweight Wrestling Championship. There is series of still photos of the 1911 match between Frank Gotch in Comiskey Park in Chicago. I saw a number of copies of the Police Gazette covering pioneer wrestling days. There are old wrestling posters, such as one for a show headlined by Lout Thesz vs El Medico, in which it is noted that there is a "colored section" reminding us of the ugly days of segregation. This lead me to ask if there was any Sputnik Munroe memorabilia and sure enough there was.

Probably my favorite thing was a collection of two photographs of Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri. Both were panoramic views, with three photographs lined up with each other to show a view of the entire arena. The first was from 1944 and was from a show headlined by "Wild" Bill Longson vs. Warren Bockwinkle (Tony looked at my wife and said "He's Nick's Dad") as well as a 1946 show headlined by Longson vs Buddy Rogers. Both photographs were taken from one end of the arena and Tony pointed out that the entire arena was looking directly at the camera, including everyone in the ring. I don't know if words can do it justice but it was pretty amazing.

Another interesting piece is a painting by 1970's wrestler and Superstar Billy Graham friend Steve Strong. The painting was of Ray "Thunder" Strong (who is credited with inventing the dropkick)delivering a dropkick to Buddy Rogers with Arnold Schwartzennegger looking on in the background.

If you are a fan of any era of wrestling there is a ton of stuff to see. My wife became fascinated with Earl McCready when she learned he was Canadian and kept finding his picture throughout the museum. And to show how much her life has changed in the five years she has known me, she actually did utter the words "Oh look honey, it's the Von Erichs!!!"

I highly recommend a visit to the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum if you are going to be anywhere near the area. If your knowledge of wrestling stretches back to William Muldoon or you consider Mick Foley to be an "old" wrestler, you should be able to find something to enjoy and learn a lot. I am definitely planning on attending the Toronto dinner in the fall and possibly even the New York inductions next year. I told Tony that I plan on challenging The Destroyer to arm-wrestle me and Tony said "Well don't do that with Danny Hodge." A life with such options is a good life indeed.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Leo Burke Chronicles 1995 to Present


In the mid-1990s Bret Hart became a trainer of young talent for the World Wrestling Federation in somewhat of a precursor to the company`s eventual developmental program. Bret hired Leo to be the head trainer at Bret’s house in Calgary. Leo trained wrestlers such as Ken Shamrock, Mark Henry, Andrew “Test” Martin, Glenn Kulka, Adam “Edge” Copeland and “Christian” Jay Reso. Henry has said in an interview that Leo was one of the best trainers he had and that Leo taught him about being a professional as well as the importance of longevity. While working as a trainer in Calgary, Leo worked with students such as Martin in Wild West Wrestling in 1997. Leo later trained Teddy Hart as well. During this time Leo was also working at a bar in Calgary. After finishing as a trainer for the then-World Wrestling Federation, Leo started working as a trainer for World Championship Wrestling.

In 1998 and 1999 Leo returned to the Maritimes to work in the now-revived Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling. The promotion had young talent such as Rene Dupre, Joe E. Legend and Chi Chi Cruz while also bringing in legends such as Burke and his brother The Beast. These tours were likely the last time Leo was able to team with his brother and likely the last time Leo wrestled as well. The CBC did a feature on Leo, putting over his long career and popularity in the Maritimes. It featured clips from a match, an interview with Leo and footage of Leo getting a loud reaction from the crowd.

Leo eventually said in an interview with Slam Wrestling that he did not know if he would do it all over again as he would rather have his health. Leo was experiencing difficulties with both knees at that time and said he had had eight knee operations. Leo did have surgery on his knees in 2006 and reported feeling better. After the knee surgery Leo was contacted by Henry who wanted to say thanks for all the help he had given him early in his career. Leo also came down with Septicemia in 2002. As a result, he spent a few days in the Intensive Care Unit of Foothills Hospital in Calgary but he did recover from this illness. Leo’s brother Rudy Kay died in 2008 and Yvon (The Beast) died in 2009. Leo and his brothers were honored at the Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion in 2009 and Leo’s son and daughter attended with him.

In 2010 Leo made guest appearances at events for UCW in Spryfield, Nova Scotia, Berwick, Nova Scotia and Summerside, Prince Edward Island. Leo said that to the crowd that he wished his knees were in better shape so he could wrestle on the shows. Leo talked about his brother The Beast being the toughest wrestler he ever faced. Leo also worked as guest referee in matches on the cards.

Bret Hart credits Leo Burke as an early influence in his career Bret Hart has said of Leo“He was privileged to wrestle so many of the greats and his special talent was his knack for gleaning the best from each of them and adapting it to his own style.” One thing that people seem to say most commonly about Leo is that he was one of the most underrated wrestlers of his generation. In writing this career retrospective of Leo, I have wanted to shed some light on how much the man accomplished in his career. While almost all of this information was able to found on the internet already, it is hopefully helpful to have it all in one place in order to appreciate such a great professional wrestler. Thanks Leo.

1) Vance Nevada’s Leo Burke match history at
2) Bret Hart comments on Leo at`
3) Mark Henry comments on Leo at
4) General information on Maritime wrestling at
5) Biographical history at,, and,
6) Leo Burke profile on CBC

The Leo Burke Chronicles 1990-1994


Leo Burke started the year as Universal Champion in Carlos Colon's World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico and remained champion until losing the title on February 9, 1990 to TNT (Savio Vega in WWE). On March 28 Leo teamed with Chicky Starr to defeat Invader I and Invader IV for the Caribbean Tag Team Titles. The Invaders regained the titles from Burke and Starr on May 5. On May 19 Leo won the Carribean Heavyweight title from Invader I (Jose Gonzales). The two faced each other in a worked boxing match on July 7 at the 1990 WWC Anniversario show. Leo was accompanied by Chicky Starr while Gonzales was accompanied by both “Robocop” and Hector “Macho” Camacho, a Puerto Rican boxer who was WBO Light Welterweight Champion at the time. Gonzales won the match and the title with a “knock-out” of Leo.

Leo then returned to the Maritimes for what was the last summer season of Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling until 1997. Rip Rogers was the International Champion at the start of the season but lost the title to Leo on August 11. Rogers did regain the title before the end of the season. Leo also won the tag titles with his brother Bobby Kay when they defeated “No Class” Bobby Bass and “Diamond Timothy Flowers.” Televised matches that summer included Leo Burke and Bobby Kay vs Bulldog Bob Brown and Chi Chi Cruz, Leo Burke and The Beast vs Chi Chi Cruz and Diamond Timothy Flowers and
Leo Burke vs. Diamond Timothy Flowers. Leo was also associated with the Acadian Giant that summer. The Giant is better known as Kurrgan and was a trainee of Big Stephen Petitpas.

From this point on, Leo’s in-ring career appears to slow down to mostly wrestling in the summertime. Emile Dupre stopped promoting Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling but Stephen Petitpas started to promote the territory in the summer of 1991 as Maritime Championship Wrestling. The heel stable in the promotion was Team USA comprised of Ron Starr, Rico Frederico, Bobby Blaze, Eddie Watts and Goldie Rogers. Leo teamed with both the Acadian Giant and Petitpas in facing different combinations from this faction. On September 28 Burke and Petitpas defeated the Acadian Giant and Todd McPhee for the promotion`s tag team titles.

In 1992 Leo teamed with Stephen Petitpas throughout the summer in matches against the Cuban Assassin and Goldie Rogers. Burke and Petitpas won a match against Assassin and Eddie Watts on June 8 to become the first tag champions before losing the titles to Paul Peller and Butcher Vachon (the Maritime version who was not related to the famous Vachon family). Leo then started a feud with the Canadian Championship Wrestling champion Rick Patterson, with Burke wrestling more aggressively leading up to his winning the title from Patterson in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Todd McPhee was chasing the Jr Heavyweight title of Eddie Watts. When McPhee appeared to have won the title a complaint was made regarding and he was weighed in the ring. The title was returned to Watts as McPhee was over the limit and Leo and the Soaring Eagle hit the ring to help when McPhee started hitting everything. Leo put a sleeper on McPhee, seemingly to calm him down, but then released the hold and turned on Eagle. Leo had turned heel and issued a challenge to McPhee. Burke won their match with his feet on the ropes. McPhee did at one point defeat Burke for the title but lost it back to him two days later.

Leo next feuded with the Acadian Giant and formed an alliance with Paul Peller. Leo finished the summer in a feud with Big Stephen Petitpas. The two had a series of matches over the course of a couple weeks with Leo retaining the title with interference from Peller and the Cuban Assassin. At the end of the season Petitpas did defeat Burke with a small package to win the title. This was the last season for this promotion and would appear to have been Leo Burke`s only run as a heel in the Maritimes.

Leo did a tour of India in December of 1997. Records indicate that he lost to The Mongolian Mauler on December 8 in Calcutta. On December 9 Leo teamed with the Mauler and lost to Kamala and Brett Wolfe. In a later interview with Slam Wrestling Leo said that he did not like travelling to India as it was so poor. Leo said that anyone who would say they wanted to leave Canada would want to return home after travelling to India.


1) Vance Nevada’s Leo Burke match history at
2) Title history at
3) General information on Maritime wrestling at
4) Biographical history at
5) Serge Niles writing on Maritime wrestling at, and

The Leo Burke Chronicles 1985-1989


Leo Burke started the year in Montreal and on January 14 he teamed with Armand Rougeau, going to a draw with Sailor White and Richard Charland. He might have been working as the booker in the territory as well. Leo appears to have been working as a heel by April of 1985 as he had matches against Jos Leduc on April 8 and April 15 and against Raymond Rougeau on April 22 and April 29. On April 22 he also teamed with King Tonga and Richard Charland against Jos Leduc, Tony Parisi and Dino Bravo. On May 27, 1985 King Tonga and Richard Charland defeated Leo Burke and Jos Leduc in a tournament final in Quebec City, Quebec for the vacant International Tag Team Titles. On May 29 Leo and Mad Dog Lefebvre lost to Jacques and Raymond Rougeau in 26:00 in Verdun, Quebec. He teamed with a young Rick Steiner to defeat Gino Brito Jr and Reggie Rapone on June 3. Leo went to a draw with Gino Brito Jr on June 24 and lost to Armand Rougeau on July 15. He also wrestled Tom Zenk on July 10.

Leo was apparently managed by Eddie Creatchman during his heel run in Montreal, who also seems to have gone by the name of Floyd Creatchman. This partnership was referenced by Chris Jericho in his 2007 book ``A Lion`s Tale.” While wrestling in WCW in 1998, Jericho feuded with Dean Malenko who was known as “The man of 1,000 holds.” Jericho started referring to himself as “The man of 1,004” holds in interviews. Jericho wrote in his book he had taken this line from Floyd Creatchman who was managing and would refer to him as Leo as “The Man of 1,000 holds.” During an interview Creatchman said that Leo was “The Man of 1,002 holds” and when the interiviewer said “I thought he was the man of 1,000 holds” Creatchman said “He learned two more.”

Leo then made his return to the Maritimes, once again wrestling for Emile Dupre in Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling as the Maritime-based International Wrestling had folded. E.T. Stanton was working the territory as The Super Destroyer and became International Heavyweight Champion. On July 25 he wrestled Leo in Halifax for the title. Leo had matches against both Sweet Daddy Siki and Ron Starr throughout the summer. He also teamed with The Cuban Assassin who had started working as a babyface.

In October of 1985 Leo returned to Calgary to work for Stu Hart’s newly restarted Stampede Wrestling, which had previously closed in 1984 when the promotion was sold to Vince McMahon. Throughout October and November Leo had several matches against both Ron Starr and Cuban Assassin and also teamed with Strong Machine, Hubert Gallant and Mr. Hito in matches against Ron Starr and Honky Tonk Wayne (Wayne Ferris, later known as The Honky Tonk Man). Leo continued to face Starr and Wayne through December with partners such as Dan Kroffat (Phil Lafon of All Japan Pro Wrestling fame), Hubert Gallant, Rick Patterson and Bad News Allen. Other opponents included Kerry Brown and Mike Shaw.

In January 1986 Leo began to team with Ron Ritchie. On February 2, 1986 they faced Wayne Ferris and Ron Starr for the International Tag Team Titles but Wayne and Starr ran off with the belts after the match and the titles were held up. Ferris and Starr defeated Burke and Ritchie in a rematch on February 21. The two teams worked against each other several times a week throughout January and February of 1986.

Leo started working for Jim Crockett Jr.’s Mid-Atlantic Wrestling in the Carolinas as a heel in March of 1986. In March he wrestled singles matches against Denny Brown, Italian Stallion and Pez Whatley. In April he worked singles matches against Don Kernodle and Ron Garvin. In May he worked against Denny Brown, Rocky Kernodle, Manny Fernandez, and Hector Guerrero. Leo’s television matches during this time included a March 8, 1986 match against George South, a March 22, 1986 match against Don Graves, an April 19, 1986 match teaming with Thunderfoot and Black Bart against Wahoo McDaniel, Manny Fernandes and Hector Guerrero, an April 1986 match vs Ron Rossi and a May 24, 1986 match teaming with Vernon Deaton and Thunderfoot against Jimmy Valiant, Hector Guerrero and Manny Fenandes.

On the May 31, 1986 episode of World Championship Wrestling there was an angle in which Tully Blanchard showed footage from a May 23, 1986 show in Norfolk, Virginia. In the footage, Blanchard backed out of a taped fist match with Ron Garvin claiming an arm injury and wearing his right arm in a sling. Blanchard and his manager J.J. Dillon presented Leo Burke as a Canadian Golden Gloves Champion for a taped fist match against Garvin, who was billed as having “Hands Of Stone.” During the match referee Tommy Young was knocked down by an elbow from Garvin leading to Dillon and Blanchard interfering. Dillon missed Garvin with his shoe and hit Leo. The referee recovered and counted Burke out but as he reached a count of ten Blanchard and Dillon attacked Garvin, with Blanchard throwing his sling off and revealing a taped fist. Blanchard then nailed Garvin with several punches followed by a piledriver to Garvin on a steel chair, celebrating afterward with Burke. Throughout the footage Blanchard and Dillon were mocking Garvin and putting over Burke as a Canadian Golden Gloves Champion.

Leo returned to the Maritimes in June of 1986. He was billed as International Champion but lost the title to “Madman” Frenchy Martin in July. Burke and Martin feuded throughout the summer including having a lumberjack match in July and a chain match in September. Leo also started teaming with The Cuban Assassin throughout the summer and they faced tag team champions The Spoiler (Karl Moffat) and Nikita Kalmikoff on June 12 in Halifax. On August 30 Burke and the Cuban won the tag titles from Spoiler and Kalmikoff. Leo also had singles matches against both Spoiler and Kalmikoff on television prior to the title change.

Records could not be located for Leo from the fall of 1986. On February 1, 1987 Leo defeated Yvon Laverdure in Montreal. Big Stephen Petitpas was working in Montreal as Sheik Ali, one of the area’s top heels and he was managed by Eddie Creatchman. There is apparently video footage of Leo wrestling “Sheik Al-Arab” who would presumably be Petitpas. In 1987 the International Wrestling territory in Montreal closed down.

Some time in 1987, the NWA started airing programming on TQS, the French-language version of the Canadian sports channel TSN. Leo provided color commentary alongside commentator Francois Beaule along with a female announcer, with Leo playing the part of a heel. Leo would yell and tantrum in French and Frawould say “Calme-toi, Leo, calme-toi” and Leo would cross his arms and pout.

Leo returned to the Maritimes in July of 1987. He teamed with Big Stephen Petitpas that summer as well as The Cuban Assassin with whom Leo had ended the 1986 season as the tag team champions. The 1987 season seems to have begun with The Rock N Roll Rebel Express of Dino Ventura and Kid Dynamite being billed as champion. Ventura and Dynamite lost the titles to Bulldog Bob Brown and Rick Valentine (Kerry Brown) on June 26 who then worked several matches with Leo and the Assassin throughout the summer. These two teams had a Tornado Tag Match on August 27 in Halifax. Ron Starr was the International Champion that summer and had a number of matches with Leo. The title was held up at some point and Starr and Burke wrestled for the vacant title on September 10 in Halifax. The two had a Cole Miner’s Glove Match on September 24 in Halifax.

In January of 1988 Leo started wrestling in Calgary Stampede wrestling again and was featured prominently on television. He had televised matches with Goldie Rogers and Shinya Hashimoto who used the name Hashif Khan while working in Calgary. Leo also had matches with Steve Disalvo, Kerry Brown and Biff Wellington. In interviews, Leo would talk about being an eight-time North American Champion, which was noted to be a record, and was talked about as a top contender for the title held by Owen Hart at the time. Leo wrestled top contender Makhan Singh (Mike Shaw) on February 12 in Calgary and lost by disqualification. On February 19 Burke and Singh had a re-match in Calgary that was won by Singh, setting him up for a title shot against Hart. Singh did defeat Hart for the title on May 6.

Leo toured All Japan Pro Wrestling in July of 1988. On July 2 Leo teamed with Terry Gordy and lost Jumbo Tsuruta and Yoshiaki Yatsu in a televised match. On July 26 Leo teamed with Stan Hansen and defeated Tiger Mask (Mitsuhara Misawa) and Isao Takagi in a televised match. Stephen Petitpas was also on this tour working as A. Sheik. On July 2 Petitpas teamed with Mitch Snow against Great Kabuki and Hiroshi Wajima. On July 26 Petitpas teamed with Terry Gordy against Jumbo Tsuruta and Yoshiaki Yatsu. All of these matches aired on television in Japan.

Leo then returned to the Maritimes where the International Champion was Rip Rogers. Although Rogers had worked the territory as Hercules Sinard in 1978, this was his first tour of the promotion under the name he used for most of his career. Rogers said in an interview with Slam Wrestling that the tour came about after Leo told promoter Emile Dupre that he wanted to work with Rogers every night that summer. Leo had been on tour with Rogers in both Stampede and All Japan during 1988. Rip Rogers was named International Champion on July 14. Rogers and Burke had matches throughout the territory including in North Sydney and Halifax. On August 18 Leo defeated Rogers for the International title. Leo also started the season as tag team champion with The Cuban Assassin but in July they lost the titles to Bulldog Bob Brown and future New Japan Pro Wrestling star Masa “Tokyo” Chono who was working an excursion in the territory. In September of 1988 Leo and Big Stephen Petitpas defeated Brown and Chono for the tag team titles.

Leo returned to Stampede in October of 1988. He had televised matches with Gama Singh, Volkan Singh (Gary Albright) and North American Champion Makhan Singh. Leo also wrestled televised matches against Goldie Rogers, Johnny Smith, Rip Rogers and Steve Blackman and The Cuban Assassin. He teamed with Biff Wellington and Randy Thatcher in matches against tag team champions Gerry Morrow and Cuban Assassin. Leo also had matches in which he lost to some of the young wrestlers in the territory such as Larry Cameron and Chris Benoit through November and December. This was Leo’s last tour of Stampede which closed down in 1989.

Leo had another tour of All Japan in January of 1989. He was in the annual battle royal that took place in early January and was won by Davey Boy Smith. On January 22 Leo and Mike Miller lost to Baba and Kimura. On February 12 Leo and Dan Spivey lost to Genichiro Tenryu and Toshiaki Kawada. All of these matches aired on television in Japan.

Leo returned to the Maritimes for the summer of 1989 at which time Ron Starr was billed as the International Champion. Leo defeated Starr for the title on July 1 in a no-disqualification match but Starr regained the tile on July 20. Starr later lost the title to Dynamite Kid who had his only tour of the territory that year. Televised matches that summer included Leo Burke and Big Stephen Pettipas vs. Ron Starr and Pat Brady, Leo Burke vs Pat Brady, and Leo Burke vs. The Mongolian (who later gained more exposure as The Mongolian Mauler). Leo’s brother The Beast had a match against Harley Race that summer that finished with a big brawl that involved Leo and several other members of the roster.

In the fall of 1989 Leo started working for Carlos Colon’s World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico. Leo worked as a heel and had a number of matches against Miguel Perez Jr, On December 17 Leo defeated Colon for the Universal Heavyweight Title, the top championship in the company. During his time in this company Leo worked a boxing gimmick as he usually had boxing gloves with him. Leo was often associated with Chicky Starr.

1) Vance Nevada’s Leo Burke match history at
2) Title history at
3) Biographical history at
4) Mid-Atlantic results at, and
5) General information on Maritime wrestling at
6) Montreal results at,,, and
7) Chris Jericho comments on Floyd Creatchman and Leo Burke at
8) Leo doing French commentary on NWA programming at
9) Rip Rogers information at
10) Some information from this period is based on watching video footage of Leo Burke.

The Leo Burke Chronicles 1980-1984


Leo Burke started the 1980s working in Calgary. In January 1980 Leo won the title from Mr. Sekigawa (later known as Mr. Pogo). Leo had several singles matches against Bret Hart between January and May of 1980. Other opponents included Bobby Bass, Cuban Assassin, Lynn Denton, and David Patterson. Leo closed out this run by losing the North American title to Bret Hart on May 2.

Leo returned to the Maritimes in May of 1980. On June 26 Leo and Hubert Gallant won the North American Tag Team Titles from The Cuban Assassin and Bobby Bass who subsequently regained the titles from Burke and Gallant. Leo Burke teamed with Big Stephen Petitpas in August of 1980 to win the tag titles. Leo wrestled International Heavyweight Champion Killer Karl Krupp on September 24 in Halifax. Leo also worked David Schultz in the Maritimes that summer who had been crowned as the territory’s first United States champion in June 1980. After Leo failed to defeat him for the title, Schultz refused to grant Burke another match. Schultz had a television match against the masked “Red Shadow”. Schultz complained to the referee that it was Burke but the referee said the match had to continue. The masked Burke won the match with a sleeper, earned a title match and then unmasked. I would guess that this might have played off of Leo’s gimmick of working as The Atomic in Japan but cannot know for sure. Leo did not win the title in the subsequent rematch with Schultz. During that summer, Schultz also teamed with Cuban Assassin against tag champions Burke and Petitpas.

In October of 1980 Leo returned to Calgary. On December 2 he and brother Bobby Burke teamed to win their second International Tag Team Title from Duke Myers and Bobby Bass in Creston, British Columbia. Leo also had a series of matches against Bret Hart through December of 1980. The Burke brothers had matches against J.J. Dillon and Kazuo Sakurada, also known as Kendo Nagasaki in North America and not to be confused with the Kendo Nagasaki who wrestled in England. Leo and Bobby also had a series of matches against Cuban Assassin and Mr. Hito prior to losing the titles on February 28, 1981 to Duke Myers and Mike Sharpe Jr. Leo also had singles matches and tag team matches against David Schultz, with Leo and Bret Hart facing Schultz and Dynamite Kid. Leo won the North American title from Schultz on February 21, 1981 with Schultz regaining the title on February 27. Leo spent the spring teaming with brother Bobby as well as well as Bret Hart against combinations of Duke Myers, Kerry Brown and David Schultz.

Leo did spend the summer of 1981 in the Maritimes. He and Big Stephen Petitpas were International Tag Team Champions at the beginning of the season. On July 18 they faced The Cuban Assassin and Mr. Hito in New Glascow, Nova Scotia. Burke and Petitpas may have lost the titles to Killer Karl Krupp and The Masked Destroyer/Super Destroyer during the summer as Krupp and Destroyer were billed in matches for the titles on September 3 and September 10, 1981. The September 3 match was against Leo and Hercules Cortez in Halifax.

Leo then had another run as Tommy Martin in the Central States territory in the fall of 1981. Results show him wrestling there as early as October 9 when he had a match against Terry Gibbs in Fort Scott, Kansas. He wrestled Ron McFarlane on November 17 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and December 2 in Hutchinson, Kansas. On November 19, 1981 he won the Central States Heavyweight title from Bob Sweetan in Kansas City, Kansas. Leo lost the title back to Sweetan on December 10 in Kansas.

Leo then returned to Calgary and was wrestling there as of January 1982. Leo teamed with both Hercules Ayala Cortez and Keith Hart in matches against the team of David Schultz and Kerry Brown as well as Duke Myers and Mike Shaw. In February 1982 Leo started teaming with David Schultz and had a series of matches against tag champs Duke Myers and Kerry Brown through February and March of 1982. In March the tag team titles were vacated when Brown and Myers were in a car accident. A tournament was held and Brown and Myers regained the titles in a tournament final match over Burke and Schultz on March 23, 1982 in Regina, Saskatchewan. The North American Heavyweight title was also vacated in March of 1982 when champion Mr. Hito was injured. Leo became North American Champion when he defeated Duke Myers in the tournament final on March 21, 1982 in Calgary. Leo had defeated the Cuban Assassin and Kerry Brown in earlier tournament matches that night. Leo retained the title until losing it to Bret Hart on June 26, 1982 in Edmonton.

Leo had already started his summer 1982 season in the Maritimes prior to losing the Stampede title in June. Leo spent the summer working against Killer Karl Krupp and Bulldog Bob Brown. In July Leo won the United States title from Rick Valentine (Kerry Brown) and he appears to have held the title through the end of the season.

In the fall of 1982 Leo split his time between Stampede in Calgary and Maple Leaf Wrestling in Toronto. In Calgary, Leo spent the fall of 1982 teaming with wrestlers such as Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart and Davey Boy Smith against different combinations of Gama Singh, Dynamite Kid, Duke Myers and Kerry Brown. On November 19 Leo Burke and Bret Hart defeated Duke Myers and Dynamite Kid in Calgary to win the International Tag Team Titles. They lost the titles to Duke Myers and Kerry Brown on December 8 in Edmonton.

Leo engaged in a feud with Johnny Weaver in Toronto through 1982 and 1983 with Leo being billed as North American Champion. Weaver was apparently the booker of the Toronto territory at this point and liked to bring in Leo as an opponent based on their friendship dating back to working together in the 1970s in the Maritimes and the Carolinas. Leo came into Toronto as a heel, being billed from Calgary, Alberta and insisting that the ring announcer let the fans know that he wanted to be referred to as “Ontario’s Dream”. Leo teamed with Weaver against Private (Tim) Nelson and Private (Don) Kernodle in Maple Leaf Gardens on October 3, 1982 with Burke and Weaver losing in 24:11. Leo subsequently wrestled Weaver in Maple Leaf Gardens on October 31, December 12 and December 26 and again on January 9, 1983.

Leo continued to split his time between Calgary and Toronto in the early months of 1983. Leo won the Stampede North American title from Bret Hart on January 14, 1983 in Calgary. Leo spent the next few months as champion having matches against wrestlers such as Bret Hart, Keith Hart, Jim Neidhart, Mr. Hito and Davey Boy Smith. He also teamed with Hubert Gallant against combinations of Bret Hart, Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith. In April he had a series of matches with Smith and defeated him in a match to determine who would face AWA World Champion Nick Bockwinkle for the title on April 22 in Calgary. Leo had started this stint in Calgary as a babyface but was a heel by the time he faced Smith in this match, cutting a promo in French after the match to boos from the Western Canadian crowd. In the match with Bockwinkle, Leo lost after interference from David Schultz. Leo subsequently lost the Stampede North American title to Bret Hart on May 3 in Regina. Leo finished out May 1982 in Calgary with matches against Hercules Ayala, a match teaming with Bad News Allen in Victoria, BC and going to a double disqualification against Bret Hart and Dynamite Kid.

Leo wrestled Tony Parisi in Maple Leaf Gardens on January 23 and February 20, 1983, going to a 20-minute time limit draw in January and a no-contest in February. Leo also had matches at the Gardens with Vinnie Valentino and Mike Rotundo prior to losing the North American title to Johnny Weaver on April 10, 1983. Weaver defended the title against burke on May 15, 1983 with a win in 18:52 and defeated Burke again on May 29. On June 12 Weaver defeated Burke in a Loser Leaves Town match at Maple Leaf Gardens just in time for Burke to return to the Maritimes.

During the summer 1983 Maritime wrestling season Leo had matches against U.S. Champion Rick Valentine and International Champion Frenchy Martin. Leo won the U.S. title from Valentine on July 21, 1983 in Halifax and won the International title from Martin on August 4, 1983. The United States title was held up after a match between Leo Burke and “The Spoiler” Don Jardine. A rematch took place on September 8 in Halifax with Leo becoming a three-time champion after defeating The Spoiler. Burke was the last U.S. champion as the title was vacated after this season. Leo also finished the season as International Champion, a title that was not active in the Maritimes in 1984 as Burke was working separately from Emile Dupre’s circuit at that time.

Leo returned to Maple Leaf Wrestling in October of 1983 having matches against "Bret Hart" (who was actually Barry Horowitz), Tito Santana, Hubert Gallant, and Johnny Weaver. Leo also teamed with The Destroyer (Dick Beyer), losing to Angelo Mosca and Jimmy Valiant at Maple Leaf Gardens on November 13. Leo’s brothers Rudy Kay and Terry Kay (Bobby) were also working in Toronto at this time and Bret Hart also came in as “Heartthrob” Buddy Hart. Leo teamed with his brothers as well as Don Kernodle and Kelly Kiniski in a stable known as “The Rat Pack.” Leo was also billed as North American Champion again and defended the title in matches against Buddy (Bret) Hart and Tito Santana. He lost to Buddy (Bret) Hart in the first round of a tournament for the Canadian Heavyweight Championship on April 29, 1984. After the match Leo attacked Hart, preventing him from being able to continue in the tournament. Leo also had matches against Roddy Piper and Pez Whatley at Maple Leaf Gardens. In July of 1984 the Toronto territory was taken over by the WWF, ending the previous Mid-Atlantic association with Maple Leaf Wrestling as well as Leo’s run in Toronto.

In October of 1983, while still travelling to Toronto, Leo started wrestling for the International Wrestling promotion in Montreal, Quebec which was associated with the American Wrestling Association. Leo came in as a babyface and the first record of his time in the territory has him defeating Louis Lawrence on October 10, 1983. He also teamed with Hubert Gallant in the territory. On December 26, 1983 Leo lost to Abdullah The Butcher. In January of 1984 he was the co-winner of a 14-man battle royal with Dino Bravo.

Around this time the Montreal promotion introduced a new T.V. title. The tournament to crown a champion saw Leo defeat fellow babyface Richard Charland in the finals. In response to this loss, Charland turned heel, destroying Leo’s trophy and leaving him bloody and then introducing Tarzan Tyler as his new manager. In February of 1984 Leo teamed with Rick Martel in a tournament to determine challengers for champions Pierre Lefebvre and Frenchy Martin. They defeated Gilles Poisson and Bob Boucher in the first round and Gino Brito Jr and Richard Charland in the second round. Leo was injured and could not continue after the second round so he was replaced by Antonio Ricco who, along with Martel, lost to Dino Bravo and Tony Parisi in the finals.

In Montreal Leo was a tag team partner of Rick Martel, including a match in which they lost to Ken Patera and Jerry Blackwell. On March 5 Leo wrestled Nick Bockwinkel in Montreal. Leo also teamed with The Destroyer against Patera and Blackwell with Patera and Blackwell winning in 12:24. During the winter of 1984 Leo also wrestled on AWA-affiliated cards in Winnipeg, Manitoba including matches against Buck Zumhofe and Johnny Weaver.

In the summer of 1984 Leo’s brothers started their own promotion called International Wrestling in the Maritimes. J.J. Dillon was brought in as the booker in May 1984 and Dillon was also the International Champion throughout the one season of the promotion. Leo came in as of July 1984. Leo had his last-ever World title match facing AWA World Champion Rick Martel on July 3, 1984 in Halifax in a two-out-of-three falls match. Leo earned this match after defeating J.J. Dillon in Halifax on June 26. In his AWA title match against Martel, Leo won the only fall with a sleeper over Martel at 45:00 of the match. After a series of near-falls, Burke again had Martel in the sleeper when the 60:00 time limit expired, meaning Martel kept the title. Interestingly, Emile Dupre brought in NWA World Champion Ric Flair for a tour with a reported five title matches against Big Stephen Petitpas in August of that summer in what appears to have been a promotional war.

In July 1984 Leo toured Japan with the Universal Wrestling Federation along with other wrestlers frequently seen in the Maritimes and Quebec. On July 23, 1984 Leo Burke lost to Pierre Martel (Frenchy Martin) by disqualification in 21:48 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. The next night, again at Korakuen Hall, Leo Burke and Bob Dellasara lost to Nobuhiko Takada and Yoshiaki Fujiwara in 15:15.

During the summer of 1984, Leo was billed in International Wrestling in the Maritimes as North American Champion and had matches against the Great Tio and Kendo Nagasaki. Leo feuded with The Stomper Archie Gouldie, with both of them being recognized as North American Champion. The Stomper had been touring Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling and was billed as North American champion in that promotion when he jumped to International Wrestling, when he showed up by surprise and attacked Burke on July 31. They wrestled in Halifax on August 8, 1984 with The Stomper using the ropes for leverage for a pinfall in a 25-minute match. This was pointed out to the referee and the decision was overturned and the title was still undecided. Burke and Stomper then had a bloody brawl and Burke challenged Stomper to a winner-take-all match. Stomper defeated Burke on August 14 in Halifax in 17:30 after using a low-blow behind the referee’s back. They wrestled for the title in Halifax on August 21 in a match with 10 wrestlers with leather straps outside the ring. The two had a steel cage match in Halifax on August 28 with Burke winning in 19:30.

Leo started working for South West Championship Wrestling in San Antonio, Texas in the fall of 1984. He started feuding with Jonathan Boyd and his Commonwealth Army and had a match on television against Juan Reynosa. In an interview with Burke, Boyd interrupted and said that because Burke was from Canada, a British Commonwealth country, he should be part of Boyd’s Commonwealth Army but Burke refused. Leo came in as a member of Joe Blanchard`s army to take on Boyd. In a match teaming with babyface Killer Brooks against The Sheepherders, Leo turned on Brooks and it was explained that he`d been a spy for Boyd and the Commonwealth Army. Leo also had a feud with Jerry Oski who defeated Burke in a Loser-Leaves-Town match on December 9, 1984 in San Antonio, Texas.

Leo then returned to Montreal, losing to International Heavyweight Champion King Tonga on December 10, 1984 in Montreal.

1) Vance Nevada’s Leo Burke match history at
2) Title history at
3) Biographical history at
4) Information on Leo as the “Red Shadow” was written by Serge Niles at
5) Maritime show posters at, and
6) Mid-Atlantic results at,,,, and
7) J.J. Dillon interview at
8) Show posters and newspaper articles on 1984 International Wrestling in the Maritimes at
9) Ric Flair vs Stephen Petitpas information at;jsessionid=bdbhik603hmbp.omaasp42?act=15&pos=35,, and
10) San Antonio results and information at;f=1;t=113507,, and;f=1;t=099169
11) General information on Maritime wrestling at
12) St. Louis and Central States results at
13) Working with Johnny Weaver in Toronto at, and
14) Toronto results at, and
15) Montreal results at,,,,,
16) Winnipeg results at
17) UWF Japan results at
18) Some information from this period is based on watching video footage of Leo Burke.

The Leo Burke Chronicles 1975-1979


In early 1975 Leo Burke wrestled as Tommy Martin in the St. Louis and Central States territories. He wrestled in tag matches against Rock Riddle and Rene Goulet and had singles matches in St. Louis with Bobby Jaggers, Jumbo Tsuruta and Terry Funk. On April 4, 1975 Leo teamed with Ronnie Etchison against Ed Wiskowski and Chuck O`Connor, who went on to work as Col. Debeers and Big John Studd respectively.

The Maritime wrestling scene in the summer of 1975 was home to many long-time area workers such as Bulldog Bob Brown, Killer Karl Krupp, Johnny Weaver, The Beast and Mike Dubois. New faces in the territory included Alfred Hayes and a 21-year-old Roddy Piper. Leo had matches against Brown, Krupp, Dubois and Hayes and also teamed with Piper, Beast and Weaver.

After a phantom title switch (wrestling talk for “the wrestling promoters made this up”) with Bolo Mongol in Detroit, Leo was North American Champion when the 1975 Maritime season began until dropping the title to Brown in July. Brown and the Patriot also won the vacant International Tag Team titles with a September 29, 1975 victory over Leo Burke and Roddy Piper. Leo was also the Taped-Fist champion until dropping the title to Brown on June 24. Leo regained the title on October 4 in New Glascow, Nova Scotia. Leo closed out the season with a victory over Brown on November 15 to retain the Taped Fist title. But it is not championship reigns that set this season apart for Leo as much as the visiting wrestlers with whom he had the chance to work.

On July 1, 1975 Leo Burke defended the North American championship against Dory Funk Jr. Funk won the first fall at 31:06 with the spinning toe-hold. In the second fall Funk submitted to Leo`s abdominal stretch at 12:10. The time limit ran out resulting in a draw. A newspaper article on the match stated that fans were convinced that Leo Burke was ready to take on the world`s best.

On August 19. 1975 Leo Burke faced wrestling legend and former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Lou Thesz in a 2-out-of-3 falls match in Halifax. The winner of the match would receive a North American title match against Bulldog Bob Brown. The match reportedly drew more than 5,000 fans. Thesz won the first fall at 27:33 by pinfall. Burke won the second fall when Thesz submitted to the abdominal stretch. In the third fall Thesz had Burke over his head for a backdrop when Leo got his feet on the ropes and sent himself and Thesz backward, with Burke on top and Thesz being counted out.
On September 16, 1975 Leo teamed with Andre The Giant in a 2-out-of-3 falls tag team match against Alfred Hayes and The Patriot. The show reportedly drew 4, 400 fans to see Andre win the first fall over Hayes, Patriot win the second fall over Burke and Burke win the third fall over Hayes to win the match.

In what would seem to be the biggest match of his career to that point, Leo Burke faced NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco at the Halifax Forum on October 28, 1975 with the NWA title on the line. The match reportedly drew 3, 307 fans to see the match go to a time limit draw. Leo took the only fall of the match when Brisco submitted to an abdominal stretch at 34:45. Brisco and Burke apparently went through a series of near-falls leading up to Leo again putting Brisco in an abdominal stretch with a minute left in the match. The match ended with Brisco still in the abdominal stretch and Leo seemingly thinking he had won the match and the title when the time limit expired. The referee informed the crowd that the title can only change hands when the champion has lost two falls.

Leo then returned to the Amarillo territory and on February 20, 1976 he and The Beast won the vacant Western States Tag Team Titles. The brothers defeated Ricky Romero and the Silver Streak in a tournament final. Romero and Streak then defeated Burke and Beast for the titles on February 27. Leo also worked in matches against Lord Al Hayes and Reggie Parks and faced Western States Champion Scott Casey on March 2. Leo also reportedly worked a non-title match in the territory with newly crowned NWA World Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk that involved interference from both Dory Funk Jr and The Beast.

Back in the Martimes, Leo faced Dory Funk Jr. on April 20 and May 1 and again on May 4, 1976 in a one-fall match at the Halifax Forum that was billed as a grudge match. On August 24, 1976 Leo defeated The Stomper Archie Gouldie at 25:11 in Halifax in order to earn an elimination match against the Brute with the winner facing the NWA champion. On August 31, 1976 Leo defeated The Brute in Halifax to earn his next world title match. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk then did a tour of the territory, defending the title against Leo on September 4 in New Glascow, Nova Scotia, September 7 in Halifax and in a third defence against Leo on September 8. The Halifax match-up reportedly drew 4,000 fans. Terry apparently threw Leo over the top rope for the disqualification at 56:35 in order to retain his title. One fan who was in attendance reported that Terry blew his nose onto a fan in the crowd. Records indicate that Funk won the third title defence over Leo. Also of note is that an edited version of the non-title match from Texas was aired in the Maritimes in order to build up this tour, with the Funks being presented as heels and Leo and the Beast as babyfaces even though the roles would have been reversed when the match aired in Amarillo, Texas.

During the 1976 season in the Maritimes Leo won the newly created Maritimes Heavyweight Championship with a victory over The Brute on August 13, 1976. On August 17 Leo successfully defended the title against The Brute in front of a crowd of 4,008 in Halifax. Leo won the North American title from The Brute in September 1976 and went on to successfully defend the title against Brute in a cage match in Halifax on September 28, 1976. Leo lost the North American title to Michel Dubois on October 5, 1976.

Leo participated in his first tour of Japan in November and December of 1976 working for All Japan Pro Wrestling. Results are available for nine matches he had teaming against Giant Baba. Leo’s tag team partners included Dick Murdoch, Abdullah The Butcher, Killer Karl Kox (as The Spirit), Billy Robinson and Christ Taylor. Leo’s opponents included Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta, Akihisa Takachito (Great Kabuki), The Destroyer and The Great Kojika.

In January 1977 Leo was working in the Calgary territory and in February 1977 he won his first championship in that territory. Leo Burke and Keith Hart teamed to defeat The Cuban Assassins on television in a non-title match. After the match Stu Hart ordered a title match between the two teams. On February 18, 1976 Leo Burke and Keith Hart became the Stampede Wrestling International Tag Team Champions with a victory over The Cuban Assassins. They remained champions until April 6, 1976 when they lost the titles to Jonathan Boyd and Norman Frederick Charles III, listed as The Royal Kangaroos.

In April of 1977 the summer season began in the Martimes. The territory had previously been promoted as Eastern Sports Association by Al Zinck and Rudy Kay. In 1977 there was a split with Leo’s brother Bobby Kay promoting Trans-Canada Wrestling and Zinck promoting International Wrestling. Leo and his brothers worked with Trans-Canada Wrestling and wrestled opponents such as Big John Quinn, Frenchy Martin, Gilles Poisson, Al Costello and the Masked Mauler. Leo won the North American title from Frenchy Martin on July 15, 1977. Leo won the title at 17:40 with a Boston Crab. Leo also teamed with Hubert Gallant to win the Maritimes Tag Team Titles on June 2, 1977 prior to losing the titles to Gilles Poisson and The Masked Mauler on June 23, 1977. Trans-Canada Wrestling closed down in July of 1977.

Leo returned to Stampede in Calgary in July of 1977. Leo teamed with his brother Bobby who went by the name Bobby Burke. Leo also worked against Don Gagne (Frenchy Martin). On September 16, 1977 Leo and Bobby won the International Tag titles. The results list the match as being against Kasavabu and Norman Frederick Charles III. Leo and Bobby lost the tag titles to Mr. Hito and Michael Martel on December 10, 1977 in Edmonton, Alberta. On October 7, 1977 Don Gagne won the vacant North American championship in a 10-man tournament final over Bobby Burke. Leo worked in tag matches with his brothers Bobby and the Beast throughout the rest of 1977 and in matches against Gagne.

On January 6, 1978 Leo won his first Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship when he defeated Don Gagne in Calgary. During this title reign Leo worked matches against Gagne, including a cage match on January 6, as well as matches against Gene Kiniski, Michel Martel, Kasavabu and Kazuo Sakurada before losing the title to Michel Martel on March 12, 1978. Leo regained the title from Martel on March 24, 1978 with Martel re-gaining it on April 8, 1978. Leo then lost the title to Kazuo Sakurada on May 20, 1978 in Edmonton. Leo faced NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race in title matches on July 13, 1978 in Regina, Saskatchewan, July 14, 1978 in Calgary and July 15, 1978 in Edmonton. Race was the fourth World champion to have title matches against Leo but this was the first time Leo received such an opportunity in the Calgary territory.

Leo travelled to New Zealand to work for the NWA territory in the area that had a television show titled “On The Mat”. Leo had matches with Les Thornton and Butch “Brute” Miller. Leo won the NWA British Commonwealth Heavyweight Championship, apparently from Mad Dog Martel in 1979 although records are not clear regarding this. Leo did say in an interview with SLAM! Wrestling in the late 90’s that “Of all my travelling I loved New Zealand a lot”. Leo vacated the title early in 1979 when he left New Zealand.

In January of 1979 Leo toured the IWE in Japan under a mask as “The Atomic.” Leo teamed with Alexis Smirnoff, wrestler Michel Lamarche from Quebec who worked in the Maritimes as Michel Dubois. Given Leo’s red mask and his association with Smirnoff, it would seem that he was working a Russian gimmick. Leo and Smirnoff had an IWE tag title match against champions Mighty Inoue and Higo Hamaguchi. Smirnoff and “Atomic” Leo also had a match against Rusher Kimura and Great Kusatsu and Leo had a singles match against Kimura who was IWE World Champion at the time.

Leo then returned to Stampede. Leo and Keith Hart won the International tag titles from Mr. Hito and Mr. Sakurada on April 6, 1979. Larry Lane and Dory Funk Jr won the titles on July 6, 1979 but Leo may not have been involved in the match as he was touring the Mid-Atlantic territory by that time. There are results listed for Leo in Mid-Atlantic in March, May, July and August of 1979. During these tours Leo worked with wrestlers such as Kim Duk, Denny Brown, Dewey Robertson, Brute Bernard, Johnny Weaver, Moose Moroswki, Les Thornton, Don Kernodle, Swede Hanson and Gene Anderson.

In May of 1979 Leo worked in the Toronto territory for Frank Tunney’s Maple Leaf Wrestling. During this tour Leo had what would appear to be his only matches with Ric Flair. On May 5 Leo and Frank Marconi teamed against Ric Flair and Greg Valentine. On May 12 Leo and John Bonello teamed against Flair and Valentine. On May 26 Leo and Silent Brian Mackney teamed against Flair and Valentine.

Leo worked in Mid-Atlantic during June and July of 1979. Results from Spartanburg, South Carolina show him teaming with wrestlers such as Don Kernodle, Pedro Morales, Jay Youngblood, Cocoa Samoa and Johnny Weaver against opponents such as Len Denton, Gene Anderson, John Studd, Kim Duk and Jacques Goulet.

In the summer of 1979 Leo returned to the Maritimes working for Emile Dupre in his promotion titled Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling. Leo worked a series of matches throughout the summer with Killer Karl Krupp who was the AGPW International Heavyweight Champion at the time. Leo also teamed with the Great Malumba in matches against Krupp and the Cuban Assassin.

Leo was back in Calgary as of October of 1979, teaming frequently with Hubert Gallant, another wrestler from New Brunswick. On December 21, 1979 Leo and Hubert Gallant lost to Dynamite Kid and Sekigawa in a tournament final for the vacant International Tag Titles. In early 1980 Leo and Gallant had matches with Bret Hart and Keith Hart as well as Cuban Assassin and Bobby Bass. Leo later teamed with Bret and Keith and had matches against Bobby Bass, Lynn Denton and David Patterson. Leo also won the North American Heavyweight title from Larry Lane during the fall of 1979, losing it to Don Gagne on November 7, 1979.

1) Vance Nevada’s Leo Burke match history at
2) Title history at
3) Biographical history at, and
4) Maritime show posters at, and
5) Newspaper articles at
6) Mid-Atlantic results at,,,,,,, and
7) J.J. Dillon interview at
8) General information on Maritime wrestling at
9) Amarillo results at, and
10) St. Louis and Central States results at
11) All Japan Pro Wrestling results at
12) Information regarding Leo wrestling as The Atomic in Japan was gathered from video footage available from this tour.
13) Toronto results at